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Charlie Palmer

A New Direction for America’s Culinary Pioneer

Joel Robuchon

Charlie Palmer has been a believer in teamwork ever since he was a linebacker for his high school football team in Smyrna New York, a rural farming town located halfway between Binghamton and Utica. Palmer, who looks more like a gridiron star than a star chef with his Larry Csonka mustache and 6 foot 4 frame, seems to have taken several lessons right out of the playbook of his sports background in building an impressive hospitality empire that includes restaurants, hotels, farms, and various food products. While many chefs claim that their restaurant’s “team” holds the key to their success, and with good reason, to Palmer it’s the most critical element when you consider that his team consists of employees working in high-end restaurants and hotels in New York, Las Vegas, D.C., California, and soon, in Dallas.

“I’ve always felt that team sports, like football, had a lot of similarities to a kitchen. When a kitchen works and functions well, it’s all about a group of people communicating and working together, especially timing-wise, and a lot of sports have that same kind of inclination. If the timing is not right in the kitchen, it can be a disaster, and if the timing in football is not right, you’ll see a disaster on the field.”

After a dare from a teacher, Palmer took some cooking classes in high school, and that experience, along with a few restaurant jobs between junior and senior high school, made him realize that he was actually a much better cook than a football player. Even then, at that age, he began to sense his future, and had a clear vision of where he wanted to go and what he wanted to accomplish in life. But getting to where he needed to go next – culinary school - was not the easiest choice for him for a variety of reasons.

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